Recent farm reforms are a move in this direction: Uday Shankar, President, FICCI

New Delhi: Commenting on the recent farm sector reforms that have been introduced by the government, Mr Uday Shankar, President, FICCI said, “There was a need to reorient the approach taken towards the farm sector from merely focusing on production targets to creating opportunities for higher income realisation for the farmers. The latter required measures to reduce the cost of cultivation, improve productivity levels and enhance price realisation for agri-produce. Over time the government has taken several measures to make farming remunerative and the latest set of reforms only contribute to this effort.”

“The farm sector reforms have been introduced amid one of the biggest disruptions that we ever experienced. The farm reforms are progressive and part of a comprehensive package to bring the nation’s economy and growth back on track,” he added.

“A section of the farmers may be concerned as they would be required to do business in a different way which they are not accustomed to. It is therefore important to fully address their apprehensions and assure them that these reform measures are aimed to improve their prospects and enhance the ease of doing agri-business in the country,” said Mr Shankar.

Mr T R Kesavan, Chairman, FICCI National Agriculture Committee and Group President (Corporate Relations & Alliances), TAFE Ltd said that revitalization of the farm sector through strengthening of market linkage for farmers’ produce, enhancing productivity through access to technology and making agriculture processes more efficient and smarter is the need of the hour.

“It is important that farmers should be empowered so that they can decide on their choices rather than dictated by archaic practices. The Government of India has changed the crisis into an opportunity by taking a positive step towards the long-pending reforms that provide freedom of choice in the hands of farmers. The reforms announced by the government will enable demand-driven value-added agriculture, which is critical for accelerating future growth of the sector,” he said.

He further said that given the structure and complexities of the agrarian economy of the country, the most important characteristics of which are small and highly fragmented land holdings, enabling policy environment was imperative. The farmers who hold small and marginal holdings of less than five acres face challenges on the integration of value chains, distribution due to smaller outputs and fragmented holdings that hinders economies of scale and lead to wastages at different points of the agriculture supply chain – often encouraging middlemen exploiting their weaknesses.

Therefore, support was needed to not only increase yields but also the income of small and marginal farmers by providing efficient and transparent market linkages. These reforms will enable in creating structures, ‘for the farmer and by the farmer’ individually and/or collectively aided by commercial and legal provisions protecting the farmers’ interest, added Mr Kesavan.

“Autonomy and freedom of choice are fundamental rights. Farmers’ associations will become forces to reckon with and will provide adequate competition to industry, bettering standard of supply of goods quality and reducing wastages by localized processing of agricultural produce. We have the Amul model that succeeded and became one of the world’s best farmer movements. Agriculture reforms announced by the government will support the vision of doubling farmers’ income and help achieve the target of enhancing Agri exports to US$ 60 billion by 2022,” Mr Kesavan said.